For the casual listener, there are two impediments to enjoying this disc. First, the works are transcriptions of orchestral works for chamber ensembles, and second, both transcriptions are played on a light-toned fortepiano and cat-gutted stringed instruments. But for the dedicated listener who knows and loves Beethoven's Symphony No. 2 and Piano Concerto No. 4 and who accepts and enjoys period instruments, this disc will be pure enjoyment.
On this recording, Steven Isserlis, together with his regular collaborator, fortepianist Robert Levin, presents a magisterial compendium of Beethoven's complete works for cello and piano, including Beethoven's arrangement of his Horn Sonata. The use of the fortepiano opens up a wealth of sonic possibilities for these works.
In this new chamber recording, Steven Isserlis together with his regular collaborator, fortepianist Robert Levin, presents a magisterial and long-awaited compendium of Beethoven’s complete works for cello and piano, including Beethoven’s arrangement of his Op 17 Horn Sonata. The use of the fortepiano opens up a wealth of sonic possibilities for these works.
The English cellist Steven Isserlis has been a leading light on the international musical scene for more than three decades. His complete recordings for RCA Victor including concertos and chamber works by Haydn, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Brahms, Grieg, Saint-Saens, Anton Rubinstein, Faure, Richard Strauss, Janacek, Bloch, Prokofiev, Shostakovich and John Tavener will now be available in a 12-CD box.
This really was quite a fine recording of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, one of the best in years and easily the best of the early music recordings. The Choeur de la Chapelle Royale et du Collegium Vocale sing with strength and stamina, but also with grace and beauty of tone. The Champs Elysees Orchestra plays with power and precision, but also with unity of ensemble and beauty of tone, a very rare quality in an early music orchestra. And Herreweghe himself is actually an apt interpreter of the work. Not only does he have a knack for bringing out better than the best in his performers, but he actually seems to believe in the spiritual and sublime essence of the work, a very, very rare quality in any conductor these days. The result is a performance which, while it doesn't rival the 1940 Toscanini, the 1965 Klemperer, or the 1974 Böhm, does express the overwhelming sense that the numinous is imminent. Harmonia Mundi's sound is rich and vibrant.- James Leonard